The “Ghosts of Columbia: A Haunted Lantern Tour” was brought into existence by the intellect of three strong-minded and creative Columbia residents and a few of their friends in the parlor of the Old Bruner Manson in Columbia.
A committee was formed and the Columbia Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) sponsored the event from its beginning in 2001 through its wrap-up in 2010.
The very first year of the tour consisted of the Columbia Market House, a walking tour of downtown, a trolley ride, and a walking tour of Mount Bethel Cemetery, and was hosted by about 20 volunteers.
By the fourth year of its operation, and every year after, the tour had over 100 volunteers.
Ja’net Wood, a Columbia resident, local costumer, and director of Columbia’s High School’s theatre program, played the main role in bringing “Ghosts of Columbia: A Haunted Lantern Tour” to life. She was responsible for hosting the meeting of the minds that created the idea of the event, as well as the majority of the research, script writing, and planning that went into making it such a huge success in years past.
In 2010, following that year’s performances, Ja’net Wood retired the tour.
Seven years later, two veteran actors of the tour stepped up to revive the historically spectral experience they had once been a part of and had fallen in love with.
In 2017, a new tour was formed – “Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour: Spirits Rising.”
The tour showcased a majority of scripts from past performances of the “Ghosts of Columbia” tour with the blessing of having received scripts and research notes from Ja’net Wood herself. Six months prior to the 2017 performance, the two veteran actors started with a few simple ideas on paper and after months of collaboration, productivity, and endless dedication, were thrilled to present a performance like those they had admired and cherished for years.
“Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour” became a year-round job for the two directors, taking the steps needed to create new scripts with more original characters to shape “Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour” into its own entity, striving to make the living history performance a bigger and better experience year after year.
In 2018, their second performance, “Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour: Mortality Within”, was an even bigger success than the first. After their second successful year, they decided to take the necessary steps to turn the beloved tour into an official business. In early 2019, Rivertown Theatre Productions, LLC, was established to “mother” Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour and ensure its prosperity in the future.
As of today, Sara Mimnall continues to carry the legacy as sole owner and director of Rivertown Theatre Productions, LLC and Columbia’s Haunted Lantern Tour.
Over the years, she and her volunteers have received overwhelming support from their peers and community. It is because of this that the tour continues to flourish.